US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Day 14: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Discipleship and death
Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus’ death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death. Whether with the first disciples we leave home and occupation in order to follow him, or whether with Luther we leave the monastery to enter a secular profession, in either case the one death awaits us, namely death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus’ call.

Those who are not prepared to take up the cross, those who are not prepared to give their life to suffering and rejection by others, lose community with Christ and are not disciples. Discipleship is commitment to the suffering Christ. (quoted in Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, Plough)

Reflection questions

1. What does the cross mean to you? How does it affect how you understand your faith?

2. What is your cross? How is Christ calling you to follow him?

3. How does Jesus’ call for discipleship lead you to work for justice in the world?

Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was martyred by the Nazis.